ABBOTTABAD - A local court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday awarded death penalty to one and life imprisonment to five others charged with killing three real brothers of two men who appeared in a video dancing before five women giving them an ovation at a wedding ceremony, in the remote district of Kohistan nearly two years ago.
The women have been missing since, and human rights activist Farzana Bari, who was one of the three members of the commission the Supreme Court had formed to probe the killings, claimed those five girls had also been murdered.
The sentence was handed down by District and Sessions Judge Sardar Muhammad Irshad and the convicts – Mukhtasir Khan, Awwal Khan, Shamsuddin, Taus, Maulana Yaadwal and Jantar Khan – are said to be the relatives of the women and were found involved in the murders of the three men.
The court heard the case for about a year, and gave its decision on Thursday.
The cell-phone video showed two men, Gull Nazar and Binyamin, dancing and five girls giving them an ovation. A local jirga had awarded death sentence to them all.
The two men however managed to secure an escape. But it is yet unclear how those five women were treated. Their whereabouts are unknown as yet, as well. There is a general belief that the women had also been murdered by their relatives.
The Supreme Court had taken up the case and formed an inquiry commission. Although the committee was not allowed to meet all the girls, it was given assurances by the tribal leaders that they were alive. The apex court had then ruled the case would be reopened if anything changed. Rights activist Farzana Bari had filed a dissenting note as one of the commission members, expressing her reservations over its findings.
In his closing order, the then chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, said if and when Bari could produce additional evidence, the case might be taken up again.
Farzana Bari on Thursday urged the chief justice of Pakistan to reopen the case. She said she did have the evidence that the four women might have already been murdered. She said she was not sure whether the women the committee saw were the same ones in the video.
She said after thorough investigation and having read an article by Reuters she could tell that the women presented in the court and the women in the video only bore a resemblance.
She argued that there was no identity verification of the women presented, nor was there any DNA test taken.